Pussy Riot Escapes Russia to Begin Belarus Tour

How daring it is to speak freely within an authoritarian regime. It is amazing to spectate the similarities between Trump and Putin when it comes with how they deal with opposition. Each try to discredit the source while swirling around their ideals of propaganda.

One source that cannot be silenced is Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot who has been organizing and performing activist works of art for years. That is until they escaped Russia!

Pussy Riot movements really started to pick up steam in 2012 when they performed their song, “Punk Prayer” in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior fully clad in balaclavas as they normally do. 

Here is an excerpt from the song they chose to perform that day:

“The head of the KGB, their chief saint / Leads protesters to prison under escort / Don’t upset His Saintship, ladies / Stick to making love and babies.”

Their brightly colored balaclava headwear have become a mainstay and distinguishing factor when it comes to gaining recognition for their art. 

That event symbolized protest and opposition toward newly elected Vladimir Putin. Russia’s response was heavy-handed. By design, it is often difficult to separate the country of Russia from its citizens. 

Hence, a totalitarian state is the sum of its parts. The leaders of the Kremlin do not want peace – they prefer that their citizens are in constant survival mode. Because, in Russia the citizen is treated as a mechanism for the state rather than an autonomous individual.

Alas, the cataclysmic Cathedral display of dissent landed Pussy Riot members a 2 year prison sentence for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. Many members have compared their time in a Siberian labor colony to that of an early Soviet gulag due to its inhumane treatment and exploitation of cheap labor. Prominent member Maria Alyokhina went on hunger strike when she was denied parole.

The ladies did not end up serving the entire two years. They were out in time to perform, “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland.” at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

What about the time the U.S. government federally funded a Pussy Riot performance?

(Co-sponsored with the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies)

From there, the harassment and surveillance only accelerated for these “foreign agents.” Words such as espionage and fugitive became associated with the likes of punk rock group Pussy Riot. 

Putin’s Prying Eyes 

Vladimir Putin is a small man who does not handle dissent or opposition well. Anyone who opposes the hegemonic ideals laid forth by Rasputin becomes a target for the Kremlin. For this reason, Pussy Riot perseveres. 

They formed their own activist news network – MEDIAZONA – to expose corruption & discuss crime and punishment matters within Russia. Additionally, they formed ZONAPRAVA which is a law zone that provides legal assistance for detainees. 

Maria “Masha” Alyokhina listed in the Russian Interior Ministry database

Fast forward to the present and Pussy Riot still continues to push forth. Indifference toward COVID protocols led them to organize activist rallies in the streets. This violation further ratcheted up the tension between PR and the Kremlin and officially earned them the “fugitive” label. Alyokhina’s state-sanctioned house arrest was a result of curfew violation and opposition to the Ukraine invasion. 

“If your heart is free, it doesn’t matter where you are.”

MASHA

In February 2022, their NFT of a Ukrainian flag netted $3M for the group. The funds went directly to nonprofit Come Back Alive which enhanced night vision and infrared capabilities for Ukrainian soldiers.

Free at Last

When Alyokhina’s house arrest term escalated into a 21 day penal colony sentencing, Alyokhina exercised her combative art skills in the smoothest way possible. Once people began to tack “traitor” signs on her apartment door, she decided it was time to escape the country in turmoil much like her counterparts. As a matter of fact, the majority of free thinkers, journalists and intellectuals left Russia after the Crimea invasion. 

Out of all of the underground performances, street demonstrations and political theater pulled off by the likes of Pussy Riot this one was the most impressive. Alyokhina escaped house arrest in the aggressor country of Russia with a green food courier disguise. By leaving her phone at home as a decoy, both Alyokhina and her girlfriend were able to escape in Uber Eats outfits. 

After two unsuccessful attempts to cross into Lithuania without her Russian passport (confiscated) Alyokhina was finally able to receive a travel document that likened her to a EU citizen. Björk and Ragnar Kjartansson (Rassy Prump a.k.a Assy Fart) helped Alyokhina leverage her freedom and escape Russian oppression.


Starting today May 12th, Pussy Riot will embark on the Reykjavik leg of their pro-Ukrainian tour in Berlin alongside Kjartansson and Björk. Long live the revolution!

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